Listen my children and you shall hear of Sarah Palin’s version of the midnight ride of Paul Revere. So, who needs facts anyway?

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Sarah Palin came to Boston June 3, 2011 with her traveling circus of friends, children, grandchildren, and hangers on… On vacation, she wanted to show herself off to Boston while instructing her claque in the finer points of American revolution history, so much of which took place right here.

Frankly, we were glad to see her since our tourist business was hard hit by the recent recession and is only just recovering, glad that is…

… until she started lecturing us locals on what we know best: our own history, whose facts she so scrambled that she managed to turn Paul Revere from our celebrated hero into a stooge for the British, a spy treacherously working for the very people we were fighting against, our 18th century owners and oppressors.

Here’s what she said after a visit to Old North Church when she was asked about Paul Revere’s historic ride, April 18, 1775. With the ringing certitude she’s made all her own Professor Palin commenced her mangling. Revere, she said, “warned the British that they weren’t going to be taking away our arms. By ringing those bells and making sure as he’s riding his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells that we were going to be secure and we were going to be free.”

Except for the part where Palin says Revere got on his horse and rode… Professor Palin is wrong on every single point.

Revere was not on a mission to warn the British. (Where does the lady get these ideas anyway?).

He rode to warn the colonists to get up and defend themselves for the “British were coming”, by sea.

He didn’t work alone but as part of a team of brave people who each, once briefed, had to get up and get out fast, to warn the colonists along their appointed route so that they could defend themselves and the arms they had dangerously, laboriously assembled.

If Paul Revere had done what Palin said he did (“warn the British”) he would have been snuffed out by the locals as a dangerous snitch, a traitor, not raised to the pinnacle of national respect and admiration.

This entire imbroglio, this tempest in a tea cup, should never had taken place. Palin could have chosen to do what I did when I took my nephew Kyle out to the same historic sites.

First, get a guidebook and read it.

Second, visit the superb visitor centers along the way. They are packed with pertinent detail and good (air-conditioned) films, a real pleasure to see and get out of the humidity, too.

Three, pepper the well prepared park service employees and local volunteers in period costumes with all your questions. They’ve heard it all and, in my experience (for I’ve taken friends and family members thither many times) are well qualified, well versed, and always warm and welcoming in the New England fashion.

Sarah, of course, chose none of these sensible alternatives.

Sarah likes “going rogue” about this, as everything else. It means she does things, everything, her own way… and those who don’t like it can lump it. She so liked the idea and the phrase that she titled her autobiography “Going Rogue: An American Life”. (Simon and Schuster 2009). In Palin’s “Alice in Wonderland” world whatever she says, no matter how wrong, is right and anyone criticizing her, however right, is always wrong.

Fox News anchor Chris Wallace, her Fox colleague, was the latest victim of Palin-think. Sunday June 5, he discovered why even suggesting that Palin could be mistaken ever about anything is like fighting with a skunk. And we all know what that means…

The daring but hapless Wallace suggested that Palin had erred in her Boston lecture on Revere. But Palin wasn’t about to suffer that. What? Sarah! Make! A! Mistake! Not just impossible… but inconceivable. And what’s more, that was just another instance of “gotcha” journalism, bad people out to get her. (In Sarah’s conspiratorial world there are always such evildoers at hand for Sarah’s world is lined with paranoia.)

“You know what?” Palin spat at Wallace, “I didn’t mess up about Paul Revere. Part of his ride was to warn the British that we’re already there. That, hey, you’re not going to succeed. You’re not going to take American arms.”

There was more, lots more, delivered with the usual ingredients of her verbal Molotov cocktails… surety, disdain, condescension and her usual “Look brother,don’t tread on me. Get off my back” nastiness, which can in an instant turn her smile into a sneer. Make no mistake about it, Sarah’s a tough customer and any suggestion that she’s not as good as the Virgin Mary directs her firepower at you, while her stiletto comes down hard on your foot, the better to make her point — maggot, don’t mess with me.

And this to Chris Wallace, a professional colleague at the Fox Network!

She went on, fire and brimstone at the ready, for Palin always comes armed with the arsenal of the street fighter:

“Here is what Paul Revere did. He warned the Americans that the British were coming.., and they were going to try take our arms and we got to make sure that we were protecting ourselves and shoring up all of ammunitions and our firearms so that they couldn’t take it,” Palin said June 5.

“But remember that the British had already been there, many soldiers for seven years in the area. And part of Paul Revere’s ride –and it wasn’t just one ride — he was a courier, he was a messenger. Part of his ride was to warn the British that we’re already there…. You are not going to beat our own well-armed persons, individual, private militia that we have. He did warn the British.”

And that, she suggests, is that. But, most assuredly, that is not that… and not just because she misstated a few facts which are all easily available in libraries and online. Even Boston’s own Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in his famous poem “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere” (published 1863) erred in focusing solely on what Revere did, to the detriment of his many other colleagues who also rode hard for freedom that April evening.

No, Palin’s fault is the assumption of infallibility with which she now approaches everything, great and small. That every word she mispronounces is faultless; every sentence she twists and destroys is perfect…. and every fact she gets wrong was in fact just previously misunderstood and is now clarified by her. This is not an American citizen and possible presidential candidate. This is the first, infallible American pope… and a woman too. And if you purists in the Vatican suggest that a non-Catholic and a woman will never be pope, Sarah will tell you different, thundering with words like schism and anti-pope at the ready.

For you see, Sarah aims for bigger fish than the White House with its tiresome term limits and insistent people always to propitiate. Sarah aims for the very seat of St. Peter and a lifetime audience commanded to listen and obey…

“A cry of defiance, and not of fear, A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door, And a word that shall echo for evermore…”

The word of our Sarah urbi et orbi “In the hour of darkness and peril and need”… Amen! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

* * * * *
About The Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is , where small and home-based businesses learn how to profit online. Dr. Lant is also a historian, syndicated writer and author of 18 best-selling business books. Details at

It’s all Greek to David Norris as this once shoo-in to be president of Ireland fights for his political life.

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

By any standard David Norris is an unusual man. For openers, consider this….

He is an Anglican in a country overwhelmingly Roman Catholic.

He was born in the Belgian Congo.

His mother was Irish, but his father was not only English, but in the British Army.

And he is openly gay, something which can still cause a frisson even amongst the most sophisticated of Dubliners.

Norris, in his own personal history and biography, is a symbol of how far Ireland has come from the bleak and bigoted land of recent history.

Indeed, just a few weeks ago this man of determination, grit and grace, gifted with a smile that suggests everything is possible, was riding high in his quest to become the first openly gay Irish president.

Then some sexual habits of the ancient Greeks — and Norris’ opinion about them — surfaced, to create a maelstrom which has laid the man low.

Here are the facts.

In January 2002, Norris gave an interview to the politics/current affairs magazine “Magill”. In this article he questioned the age of consent for homosexual and heterosexual intercourse and reflected on social attitudes towards incest. At the time, this little read article in less read “Magill” had no influence whatsoever, seemingly sunk without a trace… until it looked like liberal Independent Senator Norris might become President Norris.

Enter the conscience of Helen Lucy Burke.

Burke was a restaurant critic, more at home with souffles and novelle cuisine than Irish politics and statecraft. However she was assigned to do the “Magill” article, perhaps hoping to get Norris, whose girth and enbonpoint showed a gourmand’s disposition, to make some witty culinary remarks. In any event, when the Senator focused on sex rather than truffles, Ms. Burke found the subject distasteful, disgusting, disgraceful.

As the likelihood of Norris becoming president surged along with his poll numbers, Burke found herself on the horns of a dilemma. She knew where duty (and lots of great publicity) lay… and so she took her disgust and outraged conscience to national broadcaster RTE.

Burke titillated the nation with her rendition of what Senator Norris had said in that soon-to-be-infamous “Magill” interview. Words like “incest” and “pedophilia” were on every Irish lip… and every time they were uttered there was another puncture in Norris’ candidacy.

For Norris the timing of Burke’s remarks could not have been worse. After all, the nation stood abashed at the extent of the pedophile priest scandal and how the Church had (mis)handled it. The distinction that Norris wanted to make, and kept reiterating about the difference between the sanctioned man-boy love of the ancient Greeks and the coercive sex forced by priests on innocent boys was lost on the nation. Ireland’s moral conscience, always ready for arousal, drew an adamant line at men and their boys, totally, completely, resoundingly, absolutely.

A sumptuous dinner party chez Agathon.

The source of all this outrage and anger was a fictional dinner party described by the celebrated Greek philosopher Plato c. 385-380 BCE. In this important document 7 well-heeled Athenians come together in what was termed a symposium for superior cuisine and even more superior, entirely candid conversation between men of education, wit and culture.

The subject of this night’s conversation was the genesis, purpose and nature of love… a topic on which every guest could, and did, wax bold, provocative, amusing, even lyrical. It was just the kind of event that the well-educated and clever Norris would have been delighted to attend (and to which he would surely have been invited). Helen Lucy Burke would have wanted to go, too, if only to review the menu, but that was unthinkable! Really, what an outrage against tradition and the proprieties that would be!

Plato placed this dinner party in the house of the tragedian Agathon in Athens, the cultural capital of the world. Each man was to deliver an encomium, a speech in favor of erotic love. The dishes (the squid perhaps a tad overcooked) removed, the wine flowing liberally, these high-placed Attic gentlemen (who had each secretly practiced for their moment) got up on legs less steady as the evening progressed to say his piece… for his friends and, as it turned out, for all of human history.

Socrates, always tendencious, preachy, overbearing, went first, the better to get over his predictable remarks that the highest love was to become a philosopher, a lover of wisdom. Younger wits reckoned he would say that, being he was a philosopher, the most important philosopher. Still, poor old Soc, what a bore.

The encomium of the legal expert Pausanias ranged far and wide; perhaps lawyer Pausanias had drunk too deep of Agathon’s fine wines, for some words were muddled indeed. Still this man of the law knew how to please an audience as he discusses the superior wisdom, beauty and intelligence of men… and their undoubted fitness to be the teachers, the friends and counselors… and the lovers of young boys and adolescents. As Pausanias warmed to his subject, his auditors (seduced by the orator’s compliments and graceful asides) would have given their full concurrence.

Over 2000 years later, David Norris,would have given it, too. And he did understandably but not wisely in his “Magill” interview and other, later comments. For Norris the lure of ancient Greece, when men of his inclinations had every freedom, was palpable. But for Helen Lucy Burke, who did not understand, who was perhaps entirely incapable of understanding, it was all sin, abomination, writhing bodies, lost souls…

… and so this mere restaurant critic of painfully few readers took it upon herself to end the political career of the one man best capable of taking their nation to another level of tolerance, acceptance, and comity.

This is why today (June 10, 2011) you’ll find David Norris, whose poll numbers have now crashed, trying to resurrect his once-certain candidacy. To do so he must persuade local councillors that he would be the best president of Ireland, that his remarks have been misunderstood, and that he understands and appreciates the national outrage about his advanced, unwisely stated views.

In other words, this great gourmet must first eat a liberal portion of crow… and even that too little to achieve his goal.

Ireland, of course, will be the poorer without a President Norris, but even in his likely defeat Norris will do what he has done so often: advance the cause of human (and particularly) sexual rights. It is not what he wanted and thought he would get, but human society moves slowly… and, as we all know, painfully slowly in Ireland.

* * * * *
About The Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is , where small and home-based businesses learn how to profit online. Dr. Lant is also a syndicated writer and author of 18 best-selling business books. Details at

‘Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s….’ words Goshen College needs to remember as it bans ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’.

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note. To get the most from this article and set just the right mood, go to any search engine and find a copy of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” for the words to this, America’s National Anthem, are at the heart of what tiny Goshen College is doing… prohibiting this stirring song from being played because of what college officials call its martial message.

Goshen, Indiana looks, at first glance, to be a typical Midwestern college town. 116 miles from the breakneck pace of the Windy City and all its distractions. Goshen is, particularly in summer, a sleepy place, a place where the pace ambles, and you can still find students sitting comfortably under a tree engrossed in a book.

But first impressions can be wrong… and if you saw Goshen as somnifacient you’d be wrong… for Goshen is more, far more than what you see. It is a land where the Word of God is vital! Living! Omnipresent and Real!

God is not abstract and distant from the collegiate community at Goshen. He is a kind and gentle God, as close as your beating heart. You do not merely think He cares for you… you know it! You see it! It is present reality.

In Goshen, Indiana as in its Biblical predecessor, no armies or any of the paraphernalia of war are allowed to enter… for this is land blessed by God… a land protected by God… a land apart. Glory Hallelujah for ever and ever.

The troubled spirits at Goshen.

For years now, officials at Goshen College have wrestled with something that profoundly bothered them… how could they, in good conscience, play “The Star-Spangled Banner” at sporting and other events when it celebrates everything they abhor and abominate, the chaos, mayhem and destruction of the “rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air”?

One bright idea after another was tried, to serve God as they were sure He wanted…. while not outraging the profound patriotism not merely of their Indiana neighbors but which they themselves deeply felt.

Some suggested playing a tune like “America the Beautiful” (which many of their fellow countrymen in any case prefer) or “This Land is Our Land.” Others recommended playing the National Anthem along with the anthem of another country, perhaps of an international student.

The discussions were long, learned, abstruse, unsatisfactory. There was no idea, no policy that satisfied all and kept Goshen true to its principles. Because a few could not solve the conundrum, Goshen resolved to consult the many. A survey was sent to 4,000 alumni, faculty, and students… A year was dedicated to finding a solution to a problem that seemed insoluble, how to serve their God and their country, too.

In due course, college officials released their findings… and in minutes the peace of Goshen College and its idyllic community was sundered; officials had decided to ban the National Anthem altogether, thereby returning the college to its strict previous policy…. Obeying God, so they reckoned, was more important than America. It was a decision nicely calculated to produce maximum criticism, outrage, and anger. Peaceful Goshen, where God’s peace abideth, was not peaceful anymore.

Their decision subjected an unhappy Goshen to the scrutiny of America. Officials who saw themselves as stewards of God…. were now pilloried as insular, bigoted, selfish people willing to take the benefits of the Great Republic while insulting the profound symbol of that Republic.

Goshen College, only days before unknown and unacknowledged, was now pummeled and ridiculed, assaulted and demeaned by local townspeople and by the nation. News media helped fan the flames by framing the matter as a debate between those who love country, who honor the military and its sacrifices, and despicable religious zealots and America detractors.

For Goshen these days of June, 2011 were the unhappiest of days. There was no peace in the land where in happier days God Himself found peace.


All of Goshen was on alert now, waiting for the further attacks they knew would come, and bitter, too. And as the attacks mounted the college officials resolved to do what members of the Academy so often do: abjure inconvenient principle, find a comfortable modus vivendi. In short, they waffled.

It was painful watching these officials, all targets now, twisting in the wind. They wanted the ban to continue; they wanted the attacks to stop. They wanted to have their cake and eat it, too. They wanted the impossible…

But in God, all things are possible.

“And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. And they marvelled at him.” (Mark 12:17)

Throughout his earthly ministry, Jesus was constantly questioned by those seeking to discredit him. The occasion on which he uttered the words above were one of the most important. Here some of his many detractors sought to trip him up by asking a vital question about taxes, specifically should they be paid at all. His questioners hoped Jesus would give a simple “yes” or “no” response. Answering “yes” would have left him open to the accusation that he was in opposition to the Jewish resistance to the Roman occupation and therefore against God, too.

Answering “no” would have given those present an opportunity to report him to the Roman authorities as someone who was trying to incite a revolt. Either way, the questioners supposed, Jesus was trapped.

But he wasn’t.

And neither are the people of Goshen College, for Jesus has solved for them, the problem he solved for the Jews the day they asked the question they were sure would trick him, ending his bothersome ministry.

The flag of the United States and its magnificent anthem are of Caesar. Use them, honor them accordingly, for you have the highest authority for doing so and no cause for dismay and confusion. Confounded you may have been… but can be so no longer.

And so America asks you, Goshen,

“O! say does that star-spangled banner yet wave, O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?”

Let the flag fly… the great anthem soar… not divisive but uniting and all under God… for in these ways the people see how God loves us and with what munificence He has shed His grace on us all.

* * * * *
About The Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is ., where small and home-based businesses learn how to profit online. Dr. Lant is also a syndicated writer and author of 18 best-selling business books. Details at

* * * * *

5 Things the Retirement Fairy Wants You to Know (If She Existed)

ou don’t need to worry about retirement. Stop stressing and enjoy your life, already. Work and die; that’s all you have to do. In fact, we have a secret to tell you: There’s a tiny retirement fairy who will deposit money into a savings account set aside just for you. When you’re ready to retire, just send an email to your employer, and your human resources department will let her know it’s time to transfer the funds. Ha ha … we’re just messing with you. There’s no retirement fairy. But if there was a fairy overseeing your retirement, she would have a few very important things to tell you. Here are five things the retirement fairy wants you to know.

1. The retirement fairy is not going to help you

Woman dropping coins in a jar

Woman saving money by dropping coins into a jar |

You have to take responsibility for your retirement. You won’t retire and then just have a savings account with all the money you need to stop working and live a comfortable lifestyle. One person who can help you, however, is a certified financial planner. He or she can assist you with developing a realistic plan so that you can reach your retirement goals.

2. You’re running out of time

man hitting his alarm clock to sleep in

Clock |

You don’t have as much time as you think you have. Start contributing to a retirement account as soon as you get your first job. You might be young, single, and carefree now, but before you know it, you’ll be married with a couple of kids and a mortgage. Start planning now.

3. Your retirement number is most likely wrong

Retirement plan with graphs and glasses

Retirment plan |

The amount you think you need to retire comfortably may not be correct. A TIAA study revealed that many retirement savers don’t have a realistic view of how much money they will need to retire well. It will be important for you to get as close to your real number as possible so that you can avoid having to work longer than you anticipated or returning to work. If you need help figuring out your number, you can meet with a certified financial planner. You can also take advantage of one of the many retirement tools available.

4. Your 401(k) isn’t a piggy bank

Broken piggy bank with coins & hammer

Broken piggy bank |

Start beefing up your emergency savings fund instead of relying on your 401(k) to bail you out. Taking a hardship withdrawal should be your last resort if you’ve fallen on hard times. Know that you won’t be able to receive a hardship distribution unless your employer offers it. So don’t bank on your 401(k) funds coming to the rescue.

5. Stop putting your kids first

Smiling student holding a book in library

College student |

You love your children and you would do anything for them, including emptying out your savings account so they can attend a good college. However, this won’t be a good long-term plan if you ever hope to leave the workforce. Tell the kids they’ll either have to work a part-time job, go to a less expensive school, apply for scholarships, or take out loans. You, on the other hand, don’t have as many options as your children do, so if you have to make a choice put your retirement ahead of college financing.




The Good Humor Man, a tale of hot summers long ago.

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note. To get into the mood of this article, I recommend searching any search engine to find one old summer song that retains its toe-tapping zest. It’s Mungo Jerry’s 1970 hit “In The Summertime.” So timeless is this infectious little number that Hershey’s, the chocolatiers, is using it in a current (June, 2011) ad campaign. As Mungo says in the song, “Sing along with us.” My prediction is that you won’t be able to help yourself… it’s ok, when summer comes we’re all young again… and just plain happy to be alive.

Two things that could not be denied inspired this article… first the oppressive record-setting heat wave here in New England, a phenomenon which turned all of us in the city from folks assiduously avoiding each other into sweltering fellow travelers, anxious to hear the latest news about possible relief… and having no hesitation or shyness about reaching out for news and the agreeable opportunity to be resoundingly banal, “Hot enough for you?”

The second thing that caught my attention was the trill of bells which sounded at first hearing just the way the bells sounded from the Good Humor truck as it traversed the neighborhood, proving beyond a doubt that all us Illinois kids had absolutely no hearing problems; we could hear those bells across Guinness-Book-Of-Records distances… and nothing, but nothing, was going to get in the way of that truck and all of us making an absolutely certain rendezvous. It was clearly written in the Book of Kid Rights and Privileges, that it was our irrevocable and bounden duty to hear its bells, stop the wagon, and look long and hard for what a dime could get you. Personally, I was always seduced by the orange creamsicles. I haven’t seen, much less enjoyed one for decades… but as I write, I am falling helplessly into the insistent consumer mode which marked all my encounters with the mobile ice-cream emporium. The truck arrived; my money departed.

You need to be very clear about our relationship to Good Humor and its cascade of ice-cream novelties. Kids we ceased to be when we saw the truck and reviewed our resources. We were practised buyers, omniscient as to what was on that truck and what we fancied and would have, negotiators with proven skills, discerning, our “due diligence” certain, exhaustive, no doubt frustrating to the college kid home for the summer who wore the company’s uniform and drove the company’s vehicle… Long-suffering, so young himself and barely out of the juvenile consumer throng before him, he saw his profits melting as his pint-sized customers looked, looked again, made a decision, changed their mind, then looked some more…

It was a ritual, and no matter how many times you stopped the wagon, you performed it, loyally and with care. It was, after all, part of the experience… and, besides, you knew, none better, that the customer (even the most dilatory) was always right. It was something your father told you that you never forgot.

Some facts about Good Humor.

As a card-carrying kid and loyal Good Humor customer I knew absolutely nothing about the company whose success hinged on the wishes and buying power of kids like me. The only thing I cared about was whether they had orange creamsicles (they always did)… and what new novelties they had, putting them prominently at the front, the better to seduce me from my unending favorite; I have to admit I was always willing to try the new offerings, particularly if they came with the lure of that magic word: “deal” and a handful of discount coupons, which soon expired but could be seen months later under refrigerator magnets.

So ignorant then about my favorite company, I felt obliged for this article to rectify the matter… and so I have. Originally, Good Humors were a product, chocolate coated ice cream bars on a stick; I loved these too and regarded it as my particular job to ensure Grammie always had a good supply; since she loved them, too, my job was never onerous. Grammie and Grampa had great power and influence on Good Humor drivers. One never-to-be-forgotten day, Grampa who (I now know) had a talent for the right gesture at the right time, peremptorily stopped the wagon when the supply of ice-cream had run low at a birthday party Grammie was hosting for one of my young cousins. With a practised gesture I can see to this day, he ordered the wagon to stop… and invited all the guests young and old to take their pick of the inventory. When the impressed and jubilant driver had done his work, Grampa tipped him liberally, it may even have been $20, a fortune. Grampa was a dark horse in such gestures; he didn’t make them often (for he was a good penny-pinching, investing Hanoverian) but when he did… people noticed, winked, and said “Good Old Walt,” with just the right amount of admiration. They knew, and in due course all the grandchildren knew, that under his gruffness, an art form, there was a man who knew just when to be lavish with ice-cream… or whatever was called for.

Good Humor, having found success with Good Humor bars, did what all successful businesses do: it added new products, always using America’s kiddoes as ground zero for testing and launching new products. Good Humor started in Youngstown, Ohio in the ‘twenties; by the mid-‘thirties it covered most of the nation. Catering to the national sweet tooth and a love-affair with ice-cream that still seems inexhaustible, Good Humor flourished, until at its peak in the 1950s, the company operated 2,000 “sales cars”.

But the tribal ways of Good Humor, which I knew to my fingertips, were under threat; baby boomers like me grew up and put aside Good Humor along with the baseball glove and “Mad” magazine.. There were labor issues, costs increased, gasoline and insurance soared. And profits declined.

In 1961, Good Humor was acquired by Thomas J. Lipton, the US subsidiary of the international Unilever conglomerate. Sad but true, in 1978 the company sold its fleet, and an era truly came to an end. Distribution was then handled by grocery stores and independent street vendors. By 1984, Good Humor was profitable again… and (from 1989) growing. Gold Bond Ice Cream, that included the Popsicle brand, was acquired… and in due course Isaly Klondike and the Brewers Ice Cream Company. Nine plants nationwide work hard keeping up with the demand. (I confess I love Brewers chocolate ice-cream whose taste rivals more expensive brands.) I am glad that they prosper, for having lost creamsicles, I can ill afford to lose any more flavors… or a single memory.

Having completed this article, I shall allow myself the luxury (though it is very early on a Sunday) to reward myself with an ice-cream flavor I did not previously know, peach cobbler. It’s by Ben & Jerry,whose flavors I cherish, though their politics are intrusive and unappealing.

I am glad the store is handy… I am glad I won’t have to wait for the ice-cream truck to come, always late, increasing my impatience.

And I am glad I have shared this story with you. For while there have been many vicissitudes at Good Humor… the only thing that really matters, the ice-cream itself, abides, perfect for a hot summer’s day like the one just dawning. And that is good to know and to share with a friend.

* * * * *
About The Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is, where small and home-based businesses learn how to profit online. Dr. Lant is also a syndicated writer and author of 18 best-selling business books. Details at

* * * * *

The short life and appalling death of Raymond Zack, an avoidable American tragedy.

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Crown Memorial State Beach, Alameda, California is the kind of place you come to breathe and shake off life’s trials and tribulations.

The panorama is just what you think the Golden State should be…a place of possibilities, not inhibitions. Here the air is superior to any French vintage… the chill waters are bracing and playful….

Here the very birds fly higher because they are contented at such a place… and in the distance, clearly seen, is the great structure of one of mankind’s signature triumphs the Golden Gate Bridge… which sends every spirit soaring…

It was here that Raymond Zack came to die… and where the people charged with protecting life assisted Raymond take his, to the astonishment, wonder and outrage of the world.

Raymond Zack, born July 23, 1959.

Raymond was, like so many millions of us, a son of America’s great heartland; Ohio born and bred. His life moved to the rhythm that is so quintessentially ours…

He was a product of Columbus’ Catholic schools… where he learned good manners, the importance of being a good man and valuable citizen… and where he glimpsed, at the hands of his dedicated instructors, the reality of God Everlasting. At 6’3″ tall, this giant of a boy excelled at track and baseball… people saw him above the crowd and, with a wink and nudge, said the boy had talent.

He went, and went proudly, to Ohio State…. as American as any educational establishment in the land. It was here, upon graduation, that he entered the community of educated men and women… And where he decided to answer Horace Greeley’s great exhortation “Go West, young man, Go West!” And he did, attracted by the dazzling sunshine and even more dazzling possibilities of California, the pot of gold at the end of America’s rainbow.

But California life, for all that the sun was radiant, gave Raymond Zack more than his share of life’s troubles. His family life was turbulent, confusing, never restful though he was the beneficiary of his foster mother’s affectionate care and unceasing concern.

He weighed 300 pounds now and, like millions of his countrymen, was challenged by the complexities of food and the clear and present dangers of overindulgence. Chagrined by his bulk, Raymond, bit by bit, withdrew from the body politic and faced the secret sorrows of isolation and loneliness, the abiding reality for too many of his countrymen.

His mother died in November 2010… and though there had been confusions and disappointments there, still she was his mother… and her loss magnified his burdens.

Then, in the midst of a great recession, where California’s profound promise was tarnished, Raymond lost his job at the St. Vincent de Paul Free Food Distribution Center where, along with Mrs. Dolores Berry, his foster mother, he had helped everyone who came. Now the man who had helped so many… was himself in need of help. This, too, was, quintessentially American for too many…

Raymond, with a “God helps those who help themselves” attitude, tried hard to do what he’d been taught to do; to keep his chin up and a stiff upper lip; to do what he could… to stay cheerful in the face of adversity.

But bit by bit, like so many, his resilience and hope were worn away. Raymond’s dark days were nigh…

In the still of the night…

We shall never know where Raymond’s anxious forebodings carried him, alone at the midnight hour. At such a time a man may turn to booze, women, any dissipation to dispel the gloom… but Raymond seems to have faced his great matter alone… and in profound despair. This, too, is reality for millions of the dispossessed and fearful.

At some irrevocable moment in his profound human misery Raymond decided the game was not worth the candle… and that it was time to move again, out of very life itself.

Thus, on May 30, 2011, while his countrymen were celebrating the sacrifices made by others to the benefit of all, Raymond Zack decided to make a sacrifice, too — of himself, since living life was just too painful and without hope.

And so he waded into the chill waters at Crown Memorial State Beach, about to be the venue of muddle, confusion, bumbling… and death. A great American tragedy was about to commence… unnecessary, scandalous, an event that enhanced no one and left Raymond Zack, floating face down, his life’s work at an end.

Seen by many.

Remember, Raymond Zack was a big man, 6’3″, over 300 pounds. He moved slowly, deliberately in the shallow waters. He was clearly seen though his purpose, at first, was not. Still, as Raymond walked into deeper waters, residents were concerned; a 911 call was made… alerting police and firefighters that some kind of incident was underway.

In just 4 minutes help was at hand… and at hand help stayed… but without lifting a finger. And here is where an avoidable tragedy morphs into disbelief, reproach, scandal, and incomprehension.

Not one of the many lifesaving professionals on the beach, not a single one, did a single thing to forestall the tragedy that could so easily have been prevented.

Later these officials, pummelled by an incredulous world, worked overtime to manufacture excuses they hoped would appease, mollify and cover.

Fire officials said that because of budget cuts no one knew the necessary rescue procedures. But this excuse was quickly blasted… when it was shown the department had money, but no sense. Other officials said rescue policies did not cover the case in point.

A police spokesman said officers stayed out of the water because Zack was suicidal and posed a possible threat.

A boat was requested to take officers to Zack… but those requesting it never indicated the matter was pressing.

In short, at every moment where judgement, help and assistance were required… the professionals at hand, our honored paladins, were without judgement, help and assistance.

And so, in full view of the world, in full view of his hysterical foster parent, 86 year old Dolores Berry, who unsuccessfully begged for celerity and assistance, Raymond Zack died…

In the way of these things, everything the system could have provided Raymond in life only emerged when he was dead… in such ways does America expiate its negligence.

Now there are flowers on the beach where he died, a crowd gathers daily to reflect and wonder; bishops make Raymond the subject of their learned lamentations. Municipal officials investigate and dismiss the inept. All this is good, right and proper.

But we must not forget the man at the center of it all, Raymond Zack, dead too soon at 50. He meant us well, each and every one of us. Now, prematurely, he rests in the bosom of the Lord; may he find the peace there he never had here.

* * * * *
About The Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is, where small and home-based businesses learn how to profit online. Dr. Lant is also a syndicated writer and author of 18 best-selling business books. Details at



 By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

It is high summer in Fall River, Massachusetts, once a focal point of American commerce and the most elegant of sailing ships, now a city defined by its gnawing problems and of people who arrive only to count the days until they leave this way station to something better.

Many of these new arrivals are Hispanic and the place where the most adamant of New Englanders flourished is now a place where often the language is Spanish and the orientation Latin. How surprised the mariners of Massachusetts would have been… but even they, unhappily seeing the transformation of their works, would have looked twice at the radiant smile of Marie Joseph, the kind of smile that lightens loads, brings people together, and holds them together when it’s needed, as it always is.

Marie Joseph graced lives, she did not impose upon them. Such people are too rare… always valued…. the sinews on which all communities rely, especially the ones which seem to have more than their share of problems.

The new arrivals, not yet ascending to country club status, rely on the plethora of municipal services which, in this year 2011, are stressed, pressured, threatened, deteriorating. But more needed than ever… especially if that service is the state-run swimming pools that provide relief on the so-hot summer days you always forget are a sweltering feature of summer hereabouts.

The thought of the beckoning pool, aqua marine, cool, refreshing, a blessing to folks without air conditioning is just what Marie Joseph wanted… and so, arrayed in that smile that wouldn’t quit, she made her way to the modern city’s version of the old swimming hole. In the last picture of Marie Joseph, taken the day before she died (June 26, 2011) her smile is incandescent, radiant, cast on the child in her arms with plenty left over for the rest of the world.

That image should have defined the event and the day, a happy memory in a life of challenges and tribulations… Instead, that image stands as irony, proof (if it were ever needed) that life is short, can never be taken for granted, and can end in ways inexplicable and horrifying… as it was about to do for Marie Joseph.

The water slide took her down indeed, to the conclusion of a brief life, just 36 years.

She saw the water slide. It looked fun… especially as she watched a nine-year-old neighbor go down the slide accompanied by the full panoply of quips, expressions, and ear-shattering squeals all kids horde for just such events. She was game. You had to take your fun when and where you could.

As she slid  down the water slide into death and eternity, no one (except the nine-year-old) paid any attention. No need. That water slide was popular and no one gave it a second thought. But this day something went terribly wrong… while people who should have seen saw nothing… or at least they say so now…

The first horror: death by drowning, surrounded by people.

Marie Joseph may have known how to swim; her friends and family are not sure. She didn’t ask. Why should she; she had watched her young friend use the slide joyously; she probably didn’t know the water was 12 feet deep. Once in the water, Marie was in trouble… and must have made a fearful racket as anyone would as they faced the reality of their situation and fought for life. How could this death struggle happen before so many… with only one person, her young neighbor doing anything to assist?

He at least knew something was wrong and tried to pull Marie up, to safety; and when he failed, he called upon the lifeguard for assistance. But demi-god in his Ray Bans, he had better things to do than his job; ignoring kids’ babble was part of what made him so cool and exalted.

Here the story goes from tragedy to the macabre, from one family’s grief to an enduring symbol of ineptitude, scandal, and staggering incompetence.

Marie Joseph was now dead… but no one knew it…

The friends she came with wondered where she had gone; something no doubt had come up; she’d tell them later. And so the sunburnt children wanting more… and their mothers who had had enough, all went home…

… leaving the body of Marie Joseph entombed in water, her raven tresses in constant movement under the water under the summer’s night. And so on this cheerful day did Marie Joseph pass a night peaceful perhaps for her, but of mounting worry and concern for her family and friends. Where had she and her radiant smile gone?

Business as usual.

The next day was business as usual… the kids came to swim and scream, the mothers to watch and gossip, complaining about the temperature and how hot it was; the lifeguard, high above, looked down on the scene and wondered if his girl was cheating on him, of all people.

And throughout this day, mere feet below the teaming activity, the lifeless body of Marie Joseph moved to the water’s beat, its whereabouts known only to God. Yes, on this evening, too, and throughout the stages of the night, did her unseeing eyes abide in their incomprehensible resting place.

And, though its staggers belief, it went on for another day… another day with the corpse swimming with youngsters… and where chary mothers saw nothing… and lifeguards with plum summer jobs, envied, yet saw absolutely nothing.

And still the story worsens, morphing from the shocking to the incredible.

Now officials, making a periodic visit, appeared. Despite the inexplicable disappearance of Marie Joseph, now common gossip, these officials made only the most cursory of inspections… not one suspecting that the pool itself and its cloudy waters held the body. Like everyone else but one small boy they looked… and saw nothing, though the corpse of a beautiful woman was dissolving into debris….

… which teams of  lifeguards missed and even the people charged daily with inspecting the pool, cleaning it, keeping the waters fresh and clear. Add these, too, to the staggering number who should have seen… but say they did not.

Now, of course, alarm bells ringing in the face of widespread condemnation, officials great and small come slowly forward, mutter platitudes, and run for cover. A tiny fraction of this energy would easily have saved the life of Marie Joseph or at least given her honorable burial, sparing her from becoming a thing of horror and nightmare. For such she has become, no longer the beloved
person she was but a fearful presence for the children who now see a place of sun, light, air and shimmering water as a place of dread and abhorrence, wondering what else they may find there.

Marie Joseph did not deserve her fate. Let some poignant lines from Alfred, Lord Tennyson, provide her one better:

“Who is this? and what is here?
And in the lighted palace near
Died the sound of royal cheer;
And they cross’d themselves for fear
All the knights at Camelot;
But Lancelot mused a little space;

He said, “She has a lovely face;
God in his mercy lend her grace,
The Lady of Shalott.” (1842).

Musical note

I’ve chosen the original version of Lord Tennyson’s poem, first published in 1833, and put to music by Loreena McKennitt (1991). It is haunting, spectral, and profoundly sad.

He said, “She has a lovely face;
God in his mercy lend her grace,
Marie Joseph.”



By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

I had been watching the news more than usual lately. Now I realize why I stopped. It’s depressing. Part of the reason why it is depressing, is because of the speed at which you are hit by Talking Heads all over the world. Everyone is yapping at you. Everybody knows yapping doesn’t help solve problems. You need some quiet time and a new approach.

Thus consider this article my attempt to improve America and cut my own personal jitters by ignoring the media for one whole day. That’s right. That’s the beginning of how you can help America. Stop listening to the Talking Heads.

They are cuter than you are and they talk faster. But they don’t know any more. I have been doing an informal survey about the media. Turns out the media are nothing more than “no dead air” and give the drug companies lots of space to promote diseases no one ever heard of. That’s right. They don’t want to cast light. Their job is not to cast light. It is to make you nervous as hell so that you get a serious case of jitters and go on a shopping spree you don’t need.

I have come up with a list of things you can do right this very day, that will make America better. I am going to start with, turn off the media for one day. Let’s not listen to any media whatsoever. Turn off the tube. Don’t read any newspapers, and do not go on the internet and look for ”news”. Let’s just have a day as God intended. Quiet. Serene. Peaceful. That’s the first thing you can do for America and that America needs. You can calm yourself down and ignore the Talking Heads.

You can easily put these people in their places. They get there because you are glued to the screen. I know. I have been glued to the screen my whole life. Now that I am 70, I don’t need to know. Many years ago when I was going to school in England a very wise woman told me, “Don’t read the secondary sources, read the primary sources and avoid the rest”. Boy, was that good advice. In other words listen to the people, not the Talking Heads who are interpreting “the people”. Your interpretation is good as anyone else’s. Go for it.

Now let’s get started. I want you to go and get a box of donuts or whatever is in season in your neck of the woods. Go buy a dozen and take them to the Fire Department OR take them to the Police Department OR Take them to some service provider like an EMT at the hospital who stayed up all night. Or to a teacher. You don’t have to do them all. All you have to do is one box. It will cost you about 3 bucks. Best 3 bucks you ever spent. You will flabbergast everyone.

Or consider the people who run the water department OR people who run the sewage department. These are people who make America work. What you can do is astonish them with your gratitude because goodness only knows they get constant criticism. Now, speaking about criticism… Go for one day without criticizing America in any way, shape or form. Instead list five things that you love about this great nation. God shed His grace on thee. You know it. It is time to remind yourself.

You are on a roll, let’s keep it up. Let’s go a single day without having any racially charged language whatsoever. No N-words or F-words or any other kind of hate speech, just words doing what the way they were intended to do (facilitate communication). In other words use language to bring people together, not to rip them apart.

More good ideas.

Too many of us are guilty of racial profiling. Today, let’s just clear it all together off of our palette. Caution may be necessary in certain times and places but massive racial profiling is not. My father used to say ”red and yellow, black and white. They are precious in His sight”. Remember that song from Bible School

Jesus loves the little children of the world”?

Well, not just the little children. He likes the big ones, too. You could help God by getting rid of all racially charged language. Do you really need it? Do you want to be defined by the expletives that you use? I sincerely hope not.
Next, here is a particularly good action. Help somebody. Just do a helpful deed. Do it. It becomes infectious. Only the other day I was carrying up some groceries in the elevator, and I managed to drop them. I am not the world’s most coordinated person but I have never before dropped a full bag of groceries.

As there were a number of cans in my bag; they rolled all over the lobby. I was chagrined, not least because I find getting up and down a little difficult. I wondered what I was going to do with my goods and cans that were spread all over the place. And all of a sudden I heard a voice from behind me and the voice said “You seem to need some help, sir”.

Frankly, I was astonished, and as I turned around I remembered that God works in mysterious ways. I saw a beautiful woman perfectly turned out, ready to help me. And she did.

Whatever mood or condition I was in prior to her speaking to me. I quickly changed my tune to; “Wow”, thank you! I wasn’t looking so much at her beautiful exterior as I was thinking about her beautiful interior which is far more important. We can all be beautiful inside and it doesn’t cost a cent.

So, she picked up my cans and helped me put them back in the bag. Then she went up in the elevator with me, another unexpected benefit. She then said “Would you like some help”? What could I say, I was putty in her hand.
A good deed resonates. When was the last time you simply helped someone? You didn’t have to ask. You didn’t have to make a big to-do about it. It could be a small thing, although picking up rolling cans off the stone floor did not seem a small matter at the time.

Let’s do something today that all of us should never forgo. Let’s listen to what someone else says. Actually listen. We don’t listen anymore. We yap at each other. It’s degrading, and it doesn’t get us anywhere. America works because we allow other people to have their say without jumping all over them when they are saying it. It is hard to do but if everyone just listened, we all will be better off.


Compliment people on their work. It could be a waitress. Have you ever watched a waitress or a waiter? They work hard, as Donna Summer said. “They work hard for the money”. Compliment them.

Remember, America is a land that works because we work together. We don’t have to like each other. God only knows we don’t have to like each other, but we do have to get along. The funny thing is once you start working with people and get to know them, most of the time you find out that they are pretty likeable.

Another thing you can do today is don’t pre-judge anyone. I am guilty of this myself. I have pre judged so many people in my life. They didn’t look the right way. They didn’t walk the right way. They didn’t have the right skin color. They didn’t come from the right prep school.

My whole life, and I don’t say I am alone. I have got 365 million colleagues in this battle. Let’s not pre judge. Let’s for one day go without pre judging anyone and see what happens.

Then, pass this on. America, the can-do country certainly can do this. We have met the enemy as Pogo once said, and he is us. There isn’t a thing on my list which admittedly is incomplete although helpful that you can’t do right now. That your spouse can’t do. That your children can’t do. That your next door neighbor can’t do.

We can remember, God shed His grace on thee. Let’s dig ourselves out from under and remember why He did it. Then when you are finished with the items on this list, sit down in a quiet place and think something good about yourself. This may prove difficult.

After all, we are getting older and we have wrinkles and things don’t work and medications that cost more every day. It may prove difficult to pull one to good thing from this cacophony.


My mother in her declining days got to be very hostile and negative to the point where it was actually painful to pick up the phone and call her because you knew you would have to listen to 30 minutes 60 minutes 90 minutes of abuse about almost anything.

Then, one day I snapped. I said to her “When we talk next week, I want you to say something good. If you don’t say something good about anything, I am never going to talk to you again.”

I called as usual the next week, she went on as usual abusing one and all. My mother. I said to her “Do you remember what I said last week that if you didn’t come with at least one positive thought about yourself; about the Cosmos; about Antarctica; about America; about the women next door; Just one thing at least. I would never talk to you again.”

She paused for a moment because she knew that I am just as bull headed as she ever was.

“The roses in the garden are beautiful today”.

And all of a sudden we were on a different path and this path, had possibilities and life and the prospect of renewal, optimism, hope, and love.
So today let us to take a different path. Let’s assume that we can improve matters because we can. Take the matter of improvement in your own hands. Remember, turn off the media. Their job is to disgruntle you, frighten you, and give you a mountain of anxiety. We don’t need that or the “facts” which prove so often to be ill considered, wrong, and unhelpful.

We are all smart enough to realize that the critical word for all our lives is “together.” As John Adams once said in 1776 to Thomas Jefferson, “We must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall hang separately”.

Thank you for reading, now pass it on. Pass it on. Pass it on. In such a way we shall renew the grace of what makes America.

Check for further details at